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FORMER Morning Star editor John Haylett received a moving send-off in Cardiff today.
Friends, family and comrades in arms paid tribute to a giant of the labour movement who steered Britain’s only socialist daily newspaper into the 21st century as editor from 1995 to 2008 then political editor until his retirement earlier this year.
He was hailed as a fierce communist who dedicated his life to battling injustice and a loving husband, father and grandfather who lit up family gatherings and holidays.
Comrades joined in singing The Internationale as his coffin was borne out of Cardiff’s Temple of Peace.
A message from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn spoke of a comradeship with John lasting 40 years.
Mr Corbyn wrote: “I'm proud to have campaigned alongside him against apartheid, racism and war, as well as standing with him and Morning Star staff during the strike to reinstate him in 1998.
“He kept the Morning Star as a vital voice for peace and socialism and ensured we still have a daily socialist paper today.
“His insight, comradeship and humour will be sorely missed.”
Communist Party general secretary Robert Griffiths noted John’s passion for rugby union side the Cardiff Blues and Everton Football Club — the latter’s scarf was draped over the coffin along with Communist Party flags — and quoted correspondence showcasing his dry wit, including an incident recorded by the late Labour MP Tony Benn in his diaries: “I had a letter from John Haylett enclosing a note from the Avon company…”
The beauty products firm had been offended by Benn’s remark, quoted in the Morning Star, that the Labour Party was making him feel “like an Avon lady.”
John passed on Avon’s protest with the remark: “You can keep it for your ‘capitalists I have upset’ file.”
His daughter Marianne's memories stretched from quirky presents (“What 10-year-old doesn't yearn for a subscription to Soviet Weekly?”) to John’s joy at becoming a grandfather.
Morning Star management committee vice-chair Carolyn Jones read out the famous passage from Nikolai Ostrovsky: “Our dearest possession is life. It is given to us but once, and we must … so live that dying, we might say: All our life, all our strength were given to the finest cause in all the world – the fight for the liberation of humankind.”
Current Star editor Ben Chacko saluted the legacy of a predecessor who had built up the Morning Star into a voice for the whole labour movement and said that he remembered a kind and witty colleague whose help and advice had supported generations of workers.
John Haylett, June 8 1945 to September 28 2019, was laid to rest in Coedarhydyglyn Park.
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